- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 8, 2006

Cable customers in Fairfax County and Fredericksburg will be able to catch all Washington Nationals games on television after Cox Communications announced it will carry the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network beginning April1.

The move adds about 260,000 potential viewers for MASN, which has been gradually expanding its reach in the last year. About 242,000 of those subscribers live in Fairfax County.

MASN announced last month that it will produce coverage of 158 games, including 36 carried on WDCA (Channel 20). Those games not produced by MASN will be shown as “game of the week” broadcasts on ESPN and Fox.

Cox declined to carry MASN last season after the two sides failed to agree on how much Cox would pay to carry the channel. Cox officials said they wanted to ensure that carrying the network would not result in increased costs for subscribers.

“The deal had to work for both Cox and our customers, and we think we’ve achieved that,” Cox spokesman Alex Horwitz said.

MASN will be part of Cox’s expanded basic programming package and will be shown in Fairfax County on Channel 102 and on Channel 79 in Fredericksburg.

MASN is also carried by the DirecTV satellite service as well as RCN Cable, which is available in select parts of the D.C. area. MASN also last year signed a deal with Verizon FiOS service, which is offered in Fairfax County and soon in Howard County, as well as Charter Communications. MASN has been in talks to add more carriers and is expected to have round-the-clock programming by 2007.

The deal brings MASN’s reach to about 2 million people in the Mid-Atlantic region but still leaves about 1.3 million Comcast subscribers in the region without access to the network. Comcast, the largest cable provider in the region, has refused to carry MASN.

The Mid-Atlantic Sports Network is owned by the Baltimore Orioles and Washington Nationals, and was created as part of a package to compensate Orioles owner Peter Angelos for the relocation of the Nationals franchise to the region before last season.

Comcast sued the Orioles and MASN last year on the grounds that it should have been offered the chance to match MASN’s offer to carry the Orioles.

MASN launched its first Web site this week at www.masn.tv and also began running radio advertisements this week. The ads, launched Tuesday, feature WTEM (AM-980) sports broadcaster Andy Pollin urging fans to call cable and satellite operators and urge them to carry the network.

“You know what last season was like without MASN. Don’t be left out again,” Pollin says in the ads.

MASN announced Sunday it hired former Cardinals broadcaster Bob Carpenter to handle play-by-play duties for Nationals broadcasts and that Tom Paciorek, formerly with the White Sox, will perform color commentary.

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